January 6, 2011

The United States has ordered an additional 1,400 Marines to southern Afghanistan to pre-empt a Taliban spring offensive, despite a planned troop drawdown starting in July, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday “approved additional Marine forces to southern Afghanistan to exploit and consolidate gains already achieved and apply pressure on the enemy during the winter campaign,” spokesman Colonel David Lapan told AFP.

The Marine contingent could start arriving within weeks and would only be on the ground for a short mission of less than 90 days, defense officials said.

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